But, that assumes that the findings are ready for public consumption at this preliminary stage.
By preliminary, I mean papers that have not yet been seriously reviewed by anyone familiar with the methods and the specific topic.
In March 2010, we put out a working paper on the role of conditionalities in cash transfer programs, which we also simultaneously submitted to a journal.
The paper was reporting one-year effects of an intervention using self-reported data on school participation.
By the time your paper is published, it is a pretty good paper – your little masterpiece.
The publication will cause an uptick in downloads, but still, for many, all they’ll remember is the sweatshirt, and not the sweat that went into the masterpiece. But, unless we can alert everyone that there is a new version of a paper (AND make them read it and understand the changes since the first draft), this is of little use.
After one more revise and resubmit, the paper is now forthcoming, and the final version (more or less) can be found . Our findings in the March 2010 version suggested that CCTs that had regular school attendance as a requirement to receive cash transfers did NOT improve school enrollment over and above cash transfers with no strings attached. The difference was NOT that we had longer-term data: if we use self-reported enrollment to examine one-year or two-year impacts, the results are the same (see Table III, panel A in the paper linked above).
Rather, the difference was caused by the kind of data that we were using: we supplemented self-reports with administrative data, enrollment data collected from schools, monthly attendance ledgers, and independent achievement tests in math and languages.
There are formal working paper series such as NBER, BREAD, IZA, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper Series, etc.
With the proliferation of the internet, however, people don’t even need to use these formal working paper series.